It fell to Mitch McConnell, arguably the lousiest public speaker ever to practice the political craft, to sum up everything that can or should be said about the Republican National Convention.
Opening the “We Can Change It” themed second night of he convention with a call to remove President Obama, the Senate minority leader declared that it was time to put “Mitt Ryan” in charge of the republic.
He just said what everyone at the convention seemed to be thinking: Wouldn’t it be cool if Paul Ryan were topping the ticket?
Republicans did everything they could during the long campaign for the party’s 2012 nomination to signal that they wanted Anyone But Romney. They got themselves all excited about Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich (seriously). They even voted for Rick Santorum, again and again and again. The Ron Paul people never gave up.
When all was said and done, Romney’s money bought him the nod. That did not mean, however, that Republicans ever could or would come to love him.
But they do love Paul Ryan.
On the floor of the Tampa convention hall, as the moment of the congressman from Wisconsin’s address approached, the delegates could not help themselves.
“I’m feeling like it’s 1980,” New York Republican Party chairman Ed Cox told me just minutes before Ryan spoke. “Just like 1980, with Reagan.”
Why? “I’ve felt it since Paul Ryan came on the ticket.”
A few feet away, the godmother of Republican social conservatism, Phyllis Schlafly pronounced herself “very satisfied” with the ticket.
Why? “I really like Paul Ryan.”
And so it was, delegation to delegation, section to section, across the hall where Republicans gathered for their fortieth national convention.
A month ago, Mitt Romney looked like a loser. And even if the GOP ticket is not exactly soaring in the polls, Republican spirits have been soaring since Ryan was added to the ticket.
Why? Because Paul Ryan isn’t just, as Ed Cox suggests, rather Reaganesque in looks and demeanor. He’s rather Reaganesque in his approach to reality.
Ryan does not speak hard truths. He tells Republicans stories that they like to hear. Even if they are not true.
Ryan began the most-anticipated address of the convention with a biographical soliloquy that referenced his factory-town roots in Janesville, Wisconsin.
“President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory,” Ryan told the convention.